View of the old city of Umbertide near Tevere river at sunset

Things to do in  Umbria

The green heart of Italy

Long overshadowed by Tuscany just to the north, understated Umbria can easily hold its own against its limelight-stealing neighbor. Venture into Italy’s heartland to explore rolling hills that resemble Giotto’s masterpieces come to life, hilltop villages anchored by richly frescoed basilicas, rustic trattorias serving traditional fare, and postcard-perfect landscapes from the shores of Lake Trasimeno to the dramatic Apennine peaks. Umbria isn’t all idyllic scenery and sleepy hamlets, however. From spring to fall, top things to do include raucous village celebrations and world-class music and art festivals.

Top 13 attractions in Umbria

Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi (Basilica di San Francesco d’Assisi)

Birthplace of St. Francis and one of Italy’s most atmospheric hill towns, Assisi is best known for its glorious Basilica of St. Francis. The UNESCO-listed pilgrimage site is a treasure trove of medieval art. Visit the soaring upper church, the somber lower church, and Francis’ tomb in the crypt.More

Orvieto Cathedral (Duomo di Orvieto)

Orvieto’s magnificent cathedral (Duomo di Orvieto) can be seen from miles around, its soaring facade and spires towering high above the rooftops of the clifftop town. Once you get closer, you can take in its intricate external mosaics and stonework, rose window, bronze doors, and sumptuous Signorelli frescoes inside.More

Lake Trasimeno (Lago Trasimeno)

With its placid waters lined by rolling vineyards and olive groves, Lake Trasimeno (Lago Trasimeno) is one of the most picturesque corners of Umbria and a popular day trip destination. Take the ferry to one of the lake’s three islets, relax on its beaches, or explore the lakeside towns of Castiglione del Lago and Passignano sul Trasimeno.More

Basilica of St. Francis (Basilica di San Francesco)

The Basilica of St. Francis (Basilica di San Francesco), a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Assisi, is a popular European pilgrimage site. The complex of two churches commemorates Saint Francis of Assisi, founder of the Franciscan Order, who is buried here. Plans for the basilica commenced upon his death in 1226 and were completed in 1253.More

Basilica of St. Clare (Basilica di Santa Chiara)

Francis may be more famous, but Assisi was the birthplace of another extraordinary saint: Clare, founder of the Order of Saint Clares and one of the most ardent early followers of Francis. This soaring basilica dedicated to this important female saint is one of the most magnificent in Assisi, and home to her remains and sacred relics.More

St. Patrick’s Well (Pozzo di San Patrizio)

A unique sight in Orvieto, the Pozzo di San Patrizio (St. Patrick’s Well) is a remarkable feat of hydraulic engineering dating from the 16th century. Descend the double-helix staircases down almost 200 feet (more than 50 meters), and admire the ingenious design aimed at providing the clifftop city with water in times of siege.More

Fontana Maggiore

Set in Perugia’s elegant Piazza IV Novembre, the 13th-century Fontana Maggiore is one of the most important examples of medieval sculpture in Italy, and a symbol of this hilltop city. Built between the cathedral and Palazzo dei Priori, the intricately carved pink-and-white marble fountain is a highlight of the historic center.More

Assisi Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels (Basilica di Santa Maria degli Angeli)

Like the architectural version of a Russian doll, the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli is a church within a church. The grand basilica, one of the largest in the world, was built over and around the tiny 13th-century Porziuncola, a humble stone chapel where St. Francis founded his order and began the first Franciscan community.More

Chiesa Nuova

The medieval hill town of Assisi is best known for the magnificent Basilica of Saint Francis, but this UNESCO-listed landmark isn’t the only important church. Despite its name, Chiesa Nuova (or New Church is one of Assisi’s most historically significant churches, constructed in the 17th century to mark Saint Francis’ birthplace.More

Pozzo della Cava

The clifftop town of Orvieto sits above a hidden warren of tunnels and caverns dug through soft tufa bedrock from the time of the Etruscans to the 20th century. Discover this underground network with a visit to Pozzo della Cava, an Etruscan well enlarged in the 16th century that leads to ancient caves, kilns, and a cistern.More

Temple of Minerva (Tempio di Minerva)

Long before Saint Francis was born in Assisi, ancient Romans inhabited Asisium, as the town was known for millennia. A striking testimony to these Roman roots is the handsome Temple of Minerva, which has the most intact Roman temple facade in Italy and is a must for Roman architecture enthusiasts.More

Collegio del Cambio

Set in Perugia’s gothic Palazzo dei Priori, the 15th-century Nobile Collegio del Cambio was once the seat of Perugia’s exchange guild, the most powerful in the city during the Middle Ages. The Collegio’s three magnificent halls are lavishly decorated with frescoes by Perugino and others, a testament to the guild’s wealth and influence.More

Porziuncola Museum (Museo della Porziuncola)

Part of the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli complex, the Porziuncola Museum (Museo della Porziuncola) is a repository of artwork and archival documents related to St. Francis. Pilgrims, art aficionados, and those wanting to take a deeper dive into the saint’s life and teachings will enjoy this small but exceptional collection.More

Top activities in Umbria

Private St. Francis Basilica of Assisi and City Walking Tour
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Share your Pasta Love: Small group Pasta and Tiramisu class in Assisi
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All about Umbria

When to visit

Winters in Umbria are long and wet—there’s a reason that the region is known as one of Italy’s greenest. With the first warm days of spring, Umbrian villages come to life with seasonal celebrations, from the medieval-themed Calendimaggio in Assisi to the flower-strewn streets of Spello for the Infiorate. Summer brings Umbria Jazz, one of Italy’s top music festivals, and fall is the peak season for food festivals celebrating olive oil, truffles, and other regional delicacies.

Getting around

It’s quick and easy to travel by train between the main towns along the Umbrian Valley, including Spoleto, Spello, Assisi, and Perugia. Getting to far-flung destinations like Orvieto, Gubbio, and Lake Trasimeno by public transportation can be more of a challenge, however, and a rental car is your best bet for exploring the region without the hassle and delays of local buses or trains.

Traveler tips

One of Umbria’s under-the-radar local specialties is porchetta, a whole, deboned pig flavored with an aromatic seasoning of fresh rosemary, sage, garlic, and black pepper, then slowly roasted on a revolving spit until the rind is crackling and the meat buttery. You won’t find this delicacy in restaurants, however. Instead, look for white porchetta street trucks parked by the side of the road or at the morning markets, and join the line for a sandwich piled high with freshly-sliced pork.

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People Also Ask

What is Umbria famous for?

Umbria is considered one of the most authentic regions in central Italy because it is largely untouched by the mass tourism of neighboring Tuscany. It’s known for sleepy medieval hill towns, lush rolling countryside, and rustic cuisine centered on local olive oil, black truffles, heirloom pork, and bold red wines.

How many days do you need in Umbria?

Umbria’s rural villages are spread out, so you’ll need at least three days to explore the region. Begin by visiting its most famous towns: Assisi and Perugia. On day two, head south to take in Orvieto. End your trip by village-hopping around Lake Trasimeno or through the Montefalco wine country.

What is Umbrian cuisine like?

Umbria has long been a rural hub of farmers, foragers, and hunters. Its simple, hearty dishes reflect this local history, with heaping plates of homemade pasta topped with wild mushrooms, truffles, or game ragù. Meals often feature freshly pressed olive oil, flavorful pork sausage and salami, and tannic red wines.

What are the top attractions to visit in Umbria?

Umbria’s headline attraction is the medieval hill town of Assisi, birthplace of Saint Francis and home to the basilica built over his tomb, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Other A-listers include the handsome provincial capital of Perugia, Orvieto and its soaring gothic cathedral, and the placid shores of Lake Trasimeno.

Is Umbria better than Tuscany?

It depends on your priorities. While no region can compete with Tuscany’s capital city of Florence, Umbria matches its famous neighbor when it comes to charming hill towns, sweeping landscapes, and unforgettable local cuisine. Umbria also has far fewer tourists and more affordable prices for hotels and dining than Tuscany.

What are the most popular things to do in Umbria with kids?

With its villages approachable in size and pristine natural parks, Umbria is an ideal destination for families. Popular things to do with kids include visiting the Marmore Waterfalls, taking a dip in Lake Trasimeno, exploring the crumbling castles above Assisi and Castiglione del Lago, and rafting down the Nera River.

Frequently Asked Questions